“Jesus Christ! That old cocksucker?”
Thus spake Dick Nixon, upon learning of the death of J. Edgar Hoover on May 2, 1972. Two days later, he ordered the new FBI headquarters named after the great American red-rustler and homo-hunter.
Lurid tales of COINTELPRO ratfucking, fancy skating with assistant Clyde Tolson and cross-dressing bacchanals with leather-clad party boys subsequently reminded everyone of the prudence of waiting a couple of years before slapping the names of fallible mortals on federal bricks’n’mortar.
Nobody is suggesting, nor should they, that any comparable skeletons rattle in the wardrobe of Saint Jim Flaherty, but Public Works thingies have nonetheless sounded the alarm over the unseemly rush to name the new Finance HQ at 90 Elgin Street after O’Booze.
Given the beloved statesman’s penchant for blarney (e.g. the hockey scholarship to Princeton, of which the school has no record), it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that unpleasant truths may out, but that isn’t stopping Public Works Minister Diane Finley from minting Jimbo’s vanity plaques pronto.
As soon as Flaherty died in March, he technically became eligible for such an honour, which cannot be bestowed upon the quick. It’s generally considered good form to let sleeping Great CanadiansTM lie for a bit before chiselling their initials on the people’s property, the better to dispel the whiff of any temporal partisan hackery.
In many cases, 14 years has been the standard interval, although exceptions have been made. Pierre Trudeau still had to wait a little over three years post mortem to get his name on Dorval Airport.
But it’s nothing but the top shelf for good old O’Booze, sent to his reward by grateful taxpayers via a $400,000 state funeral.
Any delay would encompass the possibility (heaven forfend!) of an election loss, and the indefinite postponement of the James Flaherty Building dedication, leaving victorious Grits to name the rest of Ottawa after feckin’ Laurier and Trudeau.